GEOGRAPHY 409 – Computer Mapping
There are two major goals of this course:
1. To develop an awareness of the elements of good map design and critique
2. To develop familiarity with current methods of map animation by computer.
Students are expected to be reasonably familiar with basic mapping knowledge, the computer, and Adobe Illustrator that were covered in Geography 305.
The texts for this course are Mapping It Out. by Mark Monmonier and Designing Better Maps by Cynthia Brewer.
The lab book is Teach Yourself Flash CS3Professional in 24 Hours by Phillip Kerman. If you want to gain some mastery of Flash you must to go through the chapters in this book as listed under the lecture schedule. At the end of each chapter is a practical assignment that you should work through, though, these will not be graded. The actual graded Flash assignments will be handed out.
You are also encouraged to browse through various other books and atlases from the appended bibliography especially those by Edward Tufte.
Note that you can download a working copy of Flash CS5 from Adobe that will last for a month. Should you wish to work at home you should wait until later in the course to download it and then take advantage of the Kermin book exercises. The student version of the software is relatively expensive to purchase so I don’t recommend you buy it unless you think you want to be working with Flash at home in the future. However, the student price is still much better than buying it once you leave the university. Should you want to purchase it, consider one of the Adobe Creative Suite packages that include Illustrator and Photoshop.
Our lab has an earlier release of Flash that is similar to the current version, though, you will find some differences in the menus.
Exams and Projects:
The (+/-) lecture grade for this course will be based on two examinations and 5% for attendance and participation.
The (+/-) lab grade for this course will be based on your execution of several map projects.
All assignments are to be completed by the end of the semester - no incompletes. Your final lab project will be an animated map of your choice. Start thinking of an idea that might interest you for this project. Be ready with your idea by mid semester.
Generally I will be looking for these qualities in your map projects:
- Is it technically correct?
- Are all symbols carefully drawn and positioned?
- Are names correctly positioned and spelled?
- Are there any obvious rendering errors?
- Does the animation flow smoothly and logically
- Does it show any initiative?
- Did you do just the minimum of the assignment or did you make any effort to improve the map's content or looks? You don't need to impress me with a "duck" but I will be looking for any glimmerings of hidden genius.
- For a final project map I might additionally ask. Does the map portray some contemporary issue, topic of concern, or special data? A thematic map of population density in California or United States freeways has already been done numerous times and would probably not be too exciting or interesting to a map reader. A map of AIDS, the locations of fire ant colonies, gang-related crime, a white-water river run, a Civil War battlefield, school expenditures, tax burden, auto insurance costs, or the coastlines of higher sea levels would be far more interesting. For a final project, a map may portray some conventional data in some novel method, may represent a previously unmapped area of interest to the public (e.g. for recreation), or may present some new data.
- Is it esthetically pleasing?
- Is the map attractive and visually stimulating without becoming a “duck”?
- Is there contrast between various symbols?
- Would you want to display it publicly on the Internet or show it to a prospective employer as an example of your best work? Usually by the end of a large or complex project one just wants to be done with it and move on. However, you should always be willing to sit back and look for little things and be willing to fix them. Show your work to someone else and ask what they can find. Often obvious errors have been right under your nose the whole time.
1. Cartography's Transformation Monmonier, Ch. 1
LAB: Census Download
2. Electronic Maps Monmonier, Appendix A
3. Design Brewer, Ch. 1, 7
Monmonier, Ch 4
Definition, Problems, Solutions, Process, Constraints
4. Creativity in Map Design Monmonier, pp 76 - 89
Creative Problem Solving
a. Locate a well-designed map and a poorly designed map. Try to find one you can bring into class.
Make a copy of it or a part of it to turn in later.
b. From the 1970 National Atlas, p 189, Electric Energy Consumption, 1966
Describe what this map tells us.
5. How to Lie with Maps, Maps for Propaganda Monmonier,
How to Lie with Maps, 2nd ed. Ch. 7
LAB: Illustrator (cont.)
6. Map Critique Kerman, Introduction, Hour 1
LAB: a. Map discussion
b. Write a critique of your two mapsc Illustrator (cont.)
7. Elements of Maps Brewer, Ch. 2, pp55 - 76
Monmonier, Ch. 3
Kerman, Hour 2 and 3
LAB: Flash Introduction
Turn in your critique
9. Map Symbols Brewer, Ch. 6
Monmonier, Ch. 2
Kerman, Hour 4, 8, 15
Tufte: The Visual Display
10. Thematic Mapping Techniques Monmonier, Ch. 6, 7, 8
Kerman, Hour 7 and 12
11. Animation Kerman, Hour 9 and 10
LAB: Final Project Idea Due***
12. Animation II Kerman, Hour 11 and 14
13. Perception Basics ReviewMonmonier, Ch. 4
14. Perception II
15. May. 4 Color on Maps Brewer, Ch. 4 and 5
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